The madness that’s modern research

Winston Fletcher (MW November 6) concluded: “Bad data is far worse than no data.” A thing that all good market researchers would agree with. However, the main target of his article were these somewhat inane questionnaires that all of us seem to be bombarded with almost everyday.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only are these ridiculous questionnaires causing almost everyone to view MR as a trivial pursuit, but there are several practices that are degrading an industry which makes a very positive contribution to marketing.

We now have so-called research surveys about everything and they’re being ridiculed, sometimes rightly. Last week a survey was published that concluded that products endorsed by personalities and celebrities sell better than those that are not. Really?

The conduct and publishing of research by people who are not researchers is nothing new. The statistical knowledge of some “researchers” is barely above the rudimentary, yet they will no doubt stand in front of clients and present “research” findings as if they are the most important and exciting ever.

As Jeremy Paxman would say: “Oh, come on!”

When are we going to return to old-fashioned skills in MR or the idea that research is not a science, nor is it an art? It is a combination of the two that requires those who practice it to highlight its limitations.

As someone said to me when I was starting out in the business: even if you interview everyone in the country there will still be an error.

Alan Jarmain

Managing director

Delphi Research

Bolton, Lancs

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